tv Meet the Press MSNBC August 24, 2009 2:00am-3:00am EDT
this sunday, the fight over health care reform. the president's approval ratings fall as oppotion to his plan grows. democrats question whether the white house is backing away from a public plan. >> what we said is we think it's a good idea, but we haven't said it's the only aspect. >> can there be a compromise or will democrats try to go it alone. this morni, the debate. we'll hear from both sides of the aisle, senator orrin hatch and senator charles shumer, democrat of new york. selling the plan, has the president lost the pr war and political support? what about the biggest question of all? how will it affect you. joe scarborough and tavis smiley weigh in.
finally, the "meet the press" minutes. robert novak, a look back at highlights from his more than 200 appearances on this program over the past 45 years. but, first, in addition to waging political battles at home, he's faced with ws abroad. this week, afghans went to the polls as they face skepticism about the war after nine years. bombers strike inside baghdad's green zone. two men charged with coordinating in this area mike mullen, chairman of the joint chief's of staff and retired lieutenant general karl eikenberry. good morning to both of you. this was a poll taken by the washington news and abc news. this is the result. is the war in afghanistan worth
the fight? no, 51%. has american -- have the american people lost the will to fight the war? >> well, i'm a vietnam veteran myself. i'm aware of the criticality of the support of the american people for this war and in fact, any war. certainly, the numbers are of concern. the president has given me and the american military a mission. it focuses on new strategy and mission. i am mindful and concerned about the threat that's there. the strategy focuses on feeding al qaeda and their extremist allies. that's where the original 911 attacks came from, that region. they have moved to pakistan. i don't think that threat is going to go away. they still plot against us, see us as somebody they want to kill in terms of as many american
lives as possible. in that regard, we are focused on executing that mission. >> let's talk about the focus. the commander on the ground is expected to release his report. will he request more troops to fight? >> the assessment will come in in two weeks. his guidance was to come out, put a new team together and tell us how you assess conditions on the ground, take into consideration the president's strategy. he's going to do that. his assessment will come in and not speak specifically to resources. >> senator mccain is saying this morning, it will deal with resources. he'll come back with high, medium and low threat assessments whether you need 15,25 or 45,000 troops.
>> the assessment he will submit here won't specifically deal with requirements for additional resources. we'll deal with whatever additional resources might be required subsequent to that. >> the question senator mccain races is he's afraid there's going to be skepticism in the white house and more troops are vital if you're going to carry out the mission. where do you fall? >> when we look at the strategy th president laid out, look at what the general says he needs. my recommendation is getting the resource strategy match correct. we'll see where that goes once the assessment is in here. i have had this conversation with the president who understands that whatever the mission is, it needs to be resourced correctly. that said, it will be the initial assessment that's important and the risks associated with it.
>> can you carry out this mission with the troops you have? >> that's something we will evaluate over the next few weeks after we get the assessment. >> already there are claims of irregularities and fraud. we don't have a clear result yet of the election. to what extent does this election, this presidential election highlight the challenges that the u.s. faces there? >> well, david, let's talk about what we do know about the election. first of all, it's a historic election. it's the first presidential election led by the afghan people that's taking place in this country in over 30 years. the second point, it's a very important election. this is an election, which in all democracies in this point and time with the presidential election, the people are going to the polls and it's an
opportunity for them to renew their ties with the government. it's important to remember. if we look at the history of afghanistan, we have civil war, we have occupation, we have a complete collapse of governor those were the conditions that led to 11 of september, 2001. this election that's just been completed, it was a difficult election, but an opportunity for renewal of the trust between the people of afghanistan and their government. >> let me jump in here. there's the question of the taliban. it's really enemy one for u.s. forces there. it's stronger, it' resurgent from the period after 9/11. what does the election show about the taliban strength and the challenge to u.s. forces? >> well, i think it shows,
david, there's great excitement within this country for the afghans to regain control of their country, for sovereignty. we had a two month election campaign we just got through. a very exciting time in which there was unprecedented political activity that occurred. tv debates, rallies throughout the country. it was a civil debate that occurred. it was national. for the first time in afghanistan's history, crossing ethnic lines and campaigning around the country. >> we're talking about the threat of the taliban. ultimately, americans are seeing what we are fighting to do there. afghanistan is a war of necessity. others say no, it's not. it's a war of choice. when the war was started in afghanistan, they wrote in the wake of 9/11 invading afghanistan was a war of
necessity. there was no the viable alternative. now, with a friendly government in kabul is it necessary? my question, if we are fighting al qaeda, are we fulfilling the central mission? >> the mission the president gave us iso defeat and disrupt al qaeda and its extremist allies. it's very specific, it includes the talan. it's grown to be more sophisticated and is a tougher enemy in that regard. they are linked. that provide the safe haven for al qaeda. they feed fighters into afghanistan. al qaeda would very much like to see kabul become the capital that it was before, essentially run by extremists. in that regard, it's very much linked. it's the mission the military has now to focus and what the general is doing is focus on the
security for the people. focus on the afghan people. it's a significant change from where we were a few months ago. in that focus, it understands what they feel about their security, which is bad now and getting worse and moving in a direction that provides security so we can develop governance. we're rebuilding the nation? >> to a certain degree, that is going on. >> is that what they signed up for? >> the american people signed up for support, getting at those who threaten us and to the degree that the afghan people's security and ability that a safe haven doesn't recur, there's focus on some degree making sure secu security is okay and developing an economy that will underpin their future. >> there's a fundament at
problem. having nation building goals, running into challenges along the way. you're not going to commit to this this morning, but the reality is it fulfills the mission, to beat the taliban, fight al qaeda, there needs to beore troops in addition to this goal of securing the population. >> the focus on the people, certainly is going to come by way of having -- creating security for them so their future can be brighter than it is now. it's not just that. part of the president's strategy is bring in a civilian capacity. both pakistan and afghanistan, this is a civilian military approach. it's a new strategy. it's the first one, i recognize, we have been there over eight years. but, i recognize, i also want to
say, this is the first time we have resourced a strategy on the civilian and military side. in certain ways, we are starting a new. >> the president said back in march the american people know when it is coming to an end. he said there has to be an exit strategy and a sense there's not perpetual drift. you mentioned richard holbrook. this is what he would say. i would say this, in a simplest sense, a supreme court test for another issue, we'll know it when we see it. we'll know it when we see it. is that supposed to provide sol ice? >> we have to turn it around in the next 12 to 18 months. after that, we have a better view of how long it's going to take and what we need to do.
we are just getting the pieces in place on the ground now on the military side. we put forces there and we will add more this year and on the civilian side. it's going to take awhile to understand that. i don't see it as a mission of endless drift. we have learned a lot of lessons from iraq. focusing on the afghan people, it's a counter insurgency. it's not just a counter terrorism. we have focus on the afghan people, their security and creating afghan forces to provide their own security. >> what does your gut tell you? how long is it going to take to succeed in afghanistan? >> david, let's talk about progress and what we would see as progress is over the next several years that the afghan national army and national police are more in front and more capable and able to provide
for the security of their own population. it's a several year process and beyond. what else does it look like? the government of afghanistan that's able to tend mh more to the needs of their people to provide reasonable services to them and security to them. progress looks like a region where there's more cooperation. can we see outlines of what it might look like over the next several years consistent with our strategy and ready to partner with the next afghan administration? sure we can. >> it's interesting that he talked about progress and not victory. is victory possible in afghanistan? >> i try to focus on what it's going to take to succeed there. i reemphasize, not just on top of the progress, it's the focus on the people and giving them a future that allows them to take care of their own country and doesn't create an environment where al qaeda and allies can
threaten us and execute a threat as they did in the past. >> let me ask you about iraq. 95 people killed. attack on the foreign and finance ministry. this is baghdad where they are now in control. you warned about the sectarian violence. what troubles you about this week? >> that is the most significant threat, sectarian violence breaks out in large measure. these attacks last week were a great concern not just to me but other generals and ambassadors. it's been addressed with prime minister malachi. resolving the issues up north. those are probably the two piggest threats to the future of the security and progress. i have said we are leaving.
in the next several months, we are going to have elections next year. after that, we are going to start a rapid drawdown of forces. it's important the pretty cal and military leaders take control and generate positive solutions. >> we are days away from the eighth anniversary of 9/11. what is your assessment of al qaeda's capability of striking the u.s. again? >> still capable. still focused on it, the leadership is. they are able to train and support and finance. that capability is still significant and one we are focused on making sure it doesn't happen again. >> we're going to leave it there. thank you for being with us this morning. thank you very much. >> thank you, david. up next, the health care debate. will either side compromise to get reform passed.
orrin hatch and chuck shumer are here, only on "meet the press." we know why we're here. to redefine air travel for a new generation. to ensure our forces are safer and stronger. to take the world we share to tomorrow and beyond. announcer: around the globe, the people of boeing are working together-- to make a difference. that's why we're here.
health care fight joined by senator chuck schumer of new york and orrin hatch of utah. good morning. >> good morning. >> nice to be with you. >> the big debate is the public option, a government health plan to get competition going with private insurers. this is what you said about it in june. the bottom line is we need to rework our health care system to lower out of control costs and insure more americans. our system dominated by private insurance companies has not done the job. that's why an option for a choice is an essential part of the solution. do you stand by that? is it still essential? >> yes, it is. the reason is very clear. the costs of health care are going through the roof. most people don't see that yet. they are paid for by businesses or the governments. we're going to hit a wall soon.
in seven or eight years, medicare will go broke and it will leave millions of senior citizens in trouble. costs have gone up. they have doubled in the last seven years. if it continues, and it's likely to, there will be millions of americans whose employers say you no longer have insurance we cannot afford it or it's going to cost more. we have to do something. the private insurancendustry is highly concentrated. 94% of all markets are highly concentrate concentrated according to the justice department. in most states, two insurance companies dominate. what is the way to bring costs down? the good old fashioned way is to bring competition. it's not a big government control thing. the government steps up. they make a model.
the costs are probably 20% lower. on a level playing field, it competes with private insurance. one thing i want to underscore, it's not a mandate, it's an tion. if you like your present insurance, you keep it, it doesn't change. if you don't like it, you have an option of the public option to help bring costs down. it is, indeed, essential to getting the costs down, which is our number one problem. >> you're not backing away from it. there's concern wb the democratic party that president obama is backing away. there was a post that liberals on the health plan. this is what the reference was to. the president's weekly radio address in july, he said this -- >> that's why any plan i sign must include an insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace to compare benefits, costs and track records of a
variety of plans, including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest. choose what's best for your mily. >> that was july. a week ago, the president said this -- >> all i'm saying is the public option, whether we have it or don't have it is not t entirety of health care reform. this is just one sliver of it. one aspect of it. >> you say it's essential. the psident is saying it's a sliver. he's backed away, hasn't he? >> i don't think he has. i talked to the president about this. he believes strongly in the public option. he is working hard to get a bipartisan bill because it would be a better bill. at the end of the day, we will have a public option. i believe we could get a public option that could be passed with the 60 democratic votes we have.
a level playing public option where they compete with the insurance companies, backed in the house by blue dog democrats and more liberal democrats. think it's the direction we are going to end up in. >> senator hatch, has the president backed away? >> i think the president realizes a public option isn't the answer to everything. both independent groups and others in government ind kalt, if we go to a public option, tens of millions of people go to the government plan. the problem is the medicare of the government plan is $39 trillion in liability. it's going to go bankrupt in ten years. the cost will be ast nom cal. they pay doctors 20% less and hospitals 30% less. the cost is transferred to the
private health insurance. it goes up $1800 a year to pay for what the government fails to pay for. we're going to throw out -- we have 30 million people in the country, 85% of whom have insurance. both sides believe we should refo reform the insurance industry. there's no pblem there. the real problem is, are we going to go to a government plan that can't take care of what we have in medicaid and medicare? the point is, if we go to a government plan, they have indicates tens of millions of people -- >> senator, that's not right. the office did not say that. >> yes, it did say that. >> the cbo said, in fact, those enrolled in private insurance plans would go up and 10 million people go into a public plan. >> didn't i say tens of millions of people? >> that's different than ten
million. >> that's plenty. others are saying up to 119 million people. it ranges in between. the point is, it's always more than what the government says it is. look, i don't think people in this country believe the federal government controlling everything is the best system of last resort. we should have more flexibility in the states. new york is not utah. utah is not new york. we have a tremendous health care system that works here. they don't in new york. maachusetts. massachusetts has a so-called connector system. they haven't add ed people because they are almost bankrupt because of the cost of their government plan. anybody that believes the federal government is going to take over and do a better job than the private sector, i think just hasn't looked at the last 30 years. >> senator schumer.
>> the problems, orrin is right, medicare costs are out of control. so are private sector costs. it relates to the problems in the health care system. it's why president obama feels we have to take this on. if we don't, both the public sector, medicare and the private s sector, private insurance companies, is going to become so expensive people won't be able to get it. it's not 20 years away. it's five to ten years away. it take as lot of courage to take this on. we need to get at the fundamental problems and we ought to try other models. it's a myth that's been put out here. it's like a college system. there are public an private. you choose the one that's best for you. >> that's fine. you are arguing the merits of the public option. i want to go to where the president is. the president realizes it's a nonstarter among republicans and
democrats as well. working right now on your senate finance committee, they are not talking about a public option and the president is saying publicly, it's a sliver of reform. is he n walking away to get a compromise? >> no, if you read what mr. gibbs said and others said after secretary sebelius comment, it's clear they prefer a public option. we are going to try to get a bipartisan bill, but a public option to many, many objective observers is essential to bringing the costs down. it provides competition. >> i understand your preferences -- >> we will have one. if every republican says they will not be for a public option, we can find a level playing field, modify -- level playing field public option where insurance companies and this option compete and we will get 60 democratic votes for it.
>> is that the idea of a co-op? is that the idea of a co-op that operates in the states? >> a co-op is different. it's set up by cooperators. i think, you need, in whatever comes about, i prefer the public option. you need three things. it has to be available on day one. it can't be three years down the road in the noncompetitive way continues to raise costs. second. it has to be available to everybody. senator grassley has the idea of 100 farmers getting together and forming a co-op, that's great. it's not going to help the rest of the citizens of iowa or new york or anywhere else. third, has to have the strength and clout to go up against the big boys. the big private insurance companies that actually run the show here and they have been as responsibility, if not more responsible for run away costs.
>> senator hatch, you are a good friend of senator kennedy's. you have walked away from the democrats. what impact is the loss of senator kennedy on this compromise? >> well, senator kennedy, the first thing he would have done is call me and say let's work it out. we would have worked it out so the best of both worlds would work. they want to take and create a gove government plan when medicare is $39 trillion in debt right now. the way they are going to do it in both the house and senate bills is they are going to -- they are going to take 400 billion dlarls to $500 billion to pay for the plan out of medicare. not only that, they are going to set up an independent medicare advisory council that's going to set up the terms and conditions of health care. that means rationing in
anybody's language. i think you have to be concerned about that. last but not least, we have 300 million people -- let me finish. we have 300 million people in this country, 85% of whom have health insurance. the other 15%, you have 6 million people who actually qualify from their employer but don't get it. 11 milon people who qualify for chip and medicaid, 9 million who earn over $75,000 a year who can afford it but don't do it. when you bring it down, that 47 million people comes down to 15 million people. we all know we need insurance reform, democrats and republicans. we're going to throw out a system that works for 300 million people to take care of 15 million people that we could take care of with subsidies and other approaches. i would never go to a federal government program.
if we do that, we'll bankrupt the country. >> i want to ask you a tactical question. >> okay. >> will the democrats consider reconciliation or -- >> what better way to get it right than with -- >> is that under discussion? >> the bottom line is we preper a bipartisan approach. that's why president obama bent over back wards. it would you say supposed to be done june 30, july 15, august 1. sometime after we get back, if we don't have a bipartisan bill, we'll never meet the goal of having a bill signed into law by the end of the year. yes, we are considering alternatives. they include getting 60 democratic votes and maybe an occasional republican here or there on a bill, if we can't get a bipartisan bill, try as we might. they include looking at
reconciliation, which needs 51 and a combination. we are now looking at the alternatives. it's looking less and less likely that certainly the republican leadership in the house d senate will want to go for a bipartisan bill. john kyle says he doesn't want a single republican vote on that bill. >> on that point, or the lack there of, this is what the president said during an interview this week with michael smerconish in philadelphia about what republicans made a decision about. listen to the president. >> i'm confident we are going to get it done and as far as negotiations with republicans, my attitude has always been, let's see if we can get this done with some consensus. i would love to have more republicans engaged and involved in this process. i think early on, a decision was made by the republican leadership that said, look, let's not give them a victory
and we can have a replay of 1993-94 when clinton came in. we got the majority. i think some folks are taking a play out of that play book. >> is he right? is that what they want to make it? >> i wouldn't call it that. it's extremely important. what they are trying t do, almost anything you look at, look at the two senate and house bills. number one, they demand a public plan, whether a co-op or not, it going to be a government plan. two, they want employer mandates that kills people on the lower end of the wage spectrum. they are going to lose their jobs or companies going overseas. they want to push people from private health insurance into medicaid. >> i'm asking about tactics here. have republicans made the decision, if you beat them on health care, you can beat them next year?
>> that hasn't been an approach on the republican side, but i do admit, i think virtually every republican realizes they want the government plan ominous. they want to move the way they are is to move to a single payer system like canada, germany, france, england. choose anyone over ours and you don't know what you a doing. as bad as ours is, in some ways, and it does need reform, it's head and shoulders over any other government in the world. they are insisting on legislation killing approaches that literally republicans cannot go along with. there are six republican bills, whether they have a chance or not, i don't know. i said from the beginning, they are going to reconciliation, that's never been used. one sixth of the american economy or a smaller approach and it would be an abuse of the
process. it would set up reconciliation to solve increasing taxes or lowering taxes or cutting back on public spending or spending more. the fact of the matter is, if they used that, it would be an abuse of the process. >> quick response senator schumer. >> there are some democrats on the left side who said it should be the government only like medicare. some on the republican side, too many in my opinion who say only private insurance companies. why shouldn't we have an option where they compete and see where the public decides. it's fair, it's down the middle and that's where i think we are going to end up at the end of the day. not with rationing, not with government control, but a little competition, which the private insurance companies don't give us now. >> a final point in other news with the response we saw in libya this week to the return of
the convicted bomber from pan am 103. this is the response he got thursday. a lot of folks back in new york who were family members othe victims of pan am 103 were horrified of the images. >> i was horrified as well. this is a disgrace. there are two thingshat should happen. our secretary of state should introduce a resolution, condemning those and calling on them to apologize. second, i'd like to know if there was a deal here. there was a story in many newspapers it was done by the british government in return for an oil krokt. that would be despicable. these families didn't get over their wounds for eight years. to let this person out who was the gratest terrorist is despicable.
joe? >> with who. this is the crazy thing about the debate. they don't need a bipartisan bill. barack obama and the democrats own washington. they have 60 senators. they control the house of representatives by 79 votes. that's what's so funny. barack obama is picking fights with fox news, with talk radio types, he needs to focus on his democratic party. that's the debate here. not between orrin hatch. they own the city. >> the issue, tavis, withis own party is whether he's sticking by the public option. it's essential. it's not what the president is saying. it's a sliver of reform. let's not get crazy. is it a backtrack? >> i think it is. a couple things. i think bipartisanship is a good thing. i don't think it ought to be done at the expense of principl
principles. i don't think -- let me put it another way, if he hasn't tried to go across the aisle, you would say he hasn't tried to work with us. >> this president hasn't been reaching across to conservati s conservatives. >> wrong. the reason he's in trouble is because he's trying to be bipartisan rather than trying to lead by putting his plan out front. yes, he's backtracked. look at what he said last summer, running for office. single payer, out the window. buying medicine in bulk to keep costs down, out the window. at the end of summer and we're debating whether or not the public option is on the disable. we have moved a long way. >> this is the narrative right now in washington. i love you, but that's ridiculous. he doesn't need to reach out to republicans. the president is failing now not
because of what some talk show host is saying and not because orrin hatch is against the bill. he's failing because he can't get claire mccaskill on board. he can't get evan bayh. he's like a basketball coach who not only owns the players on the court, he owns the arena. if they are fighting each other -- get them to stop fighting. >> speaker pelosi said health care reform without the public option. i have the house. maxine waters said the following, she would refuse to vote for a reform that didn't include a public option. she says president obama has been trying to reach across the aisle. it's not going to happen. the people of this country el t elected you. we know you are a nice man and want to work with the opposite
side of the aisle. you have to drop it and move forward. be tough, use what you have, do what you have to do and we have your back. s supporters of the president are saying, to joe's point, you own washington, you campaigned hard on this. knock heads, get people in line behind you. >> had he not started by trying to be bipartisan, he would be getting whipped upside the head for not reaching across the aisle. they are right, a public option ought to be essential here. the american people can't buy it if you can't sell it. he's the commander in chief. >> what is the bipartisan approach to the right. >> seriously, i'm trying to figure it out. >> he was for public plan to begin with. >> i'm trying to figure it out. he was to the left. he started to move to the center when blue dog democrats said they are not going to follow.
you had moderate and conservatives saying they are not going to follow. i love maxine, but this is not a problem between barack obama and republicans. barack obama has been too bipartisan. it's the fast his own democrats won't follow him. if they follow him, they can pass what they want. if they want to get out of wars, shut down pentagon, get people to quit wearing blue ties on tv, they can pass what they want. >> you are right about that. if you control the house and the senate, you control the white house and you told us a year ago there was nothing in the world more important than reforming helt care, that was the centerpiece and that's why many voted for barack obama. if they can't get it done, they can't blame the republicans. having said that, the answer to earlier questions, the bipartisan effort was the
president's willingness to let the house and senate have their say rather than demanding this is the plan i want passed. >> democrats own the house and senate. the bills we are talking about, it's a difference between a henry waxman and ted kennedy. >> i want to take a step back and talk about the huge philosophical split on this. it gets to the role of government. part of the intensity at the rallies where people are showing up with guns or as i referred to, a man outside a rally in new hampshire, carrying a gun with a sign that was a quote of jefferson that's become a motto for violence against the government. i asked senator clyburn of oklahoma about it. this is what he said. i'm troubled when we stop having confidence in our government, but we earned it. it's not about health care.
health care is a sump tom. it's going to run 50% of everything we are spending we are borrowing from the next generation. >> i want to stop you there. i'm talking tone, violence. >> the tone is based on fare of loss of control of their own government. >> fear of loss of control over their own government. is that what's out there? >> no. this is not about hate. there's a set of folk in this country, not everybody, but a group in the country that will not accept a legitimate democratic presidency under any condition. they will not accept a legitimate democratic president. as a result, the pushback on obama is worse than the pushback on clinton. when you show up with guns, it's anger about government taking control of your life. it's hate.
>> outside, there are fringe elements. there's no question in this debate. the question of the government in your life and what conservatives believe about the gompbment desire to control a jor sector of the economy, it's real. >> that fear is real, but there are millions and millions of americans that don't carry guns to rallies that don't engage in hate speech we have seen both sides engage in. the troubling part for this health care debate is peop are screaming and yelling over a public option. 99% of americans don't know what they mean, they are screaming about it. robert right had an oped today in the new york times talking act evolution. most don't understand the complexities of that debate. we have chosen sides. it's happened. talk about bill clinton. it happened with george w. bush, with president obama. it's disgusting, the hate speech
on both side. i still believe that most americans they love their country, they salute their flag and respect their president. i can respect president obama just like i did president bush. whether we voteor them or not. it seems to me, leaders in both parties, democrats and republicans alike have an affirmative responsibility to step forward and is speak out against the hate speech and people carrying guns to rallies. a guy with 100% lifetime rating with the nra, can tell you that not only hurts those of us who believe in second amendment rights, it makes the job of the secret service so much harder. our law enforcement personnel so much harder. we have to tone the debate down. >> back to the health care debate, where the hate is spinning out, i don't understand how we can have a debate about the fact health care has a
reform. the leaders in washington agree it has to be fixed. when the persons are left out and think they are insured and find out how uninsured they are. in the most multicultural america ever, we have health disparities we could balance them out by e year 2000. they would still be living. 80% of the folk not insured come from families with part time and full time workers. >> this boils down, the discussion i had with the senators and here, what is the way forward. the president is facing an intensity gap. it could carry over. he's losing support among independent voters. what does he do, in the amount of time he has left to forge a compromise and succeed? >> he stops shouting at people in the cheap seats and brings the players into the white
house. he talks to claire mccaskill. what do you need. brings in evan bayh. i know indiana is different than lags year. what do you need. what can you agree with. he brings in nancy pelosi, henry waxman and does what leaders do, bring them together. >> the bottom line is, dr. king took drugs we're not going to reform health care. my grand dad said, if you are going to stand, stand. if you're going to sit, sit. don't wobble. the president is wobbling on this. >> i'm going to make that the last word. more cash over here!
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journalism. his columns were a must read. his appearances on this program over the past 45 years were always enlightning. two years ago, he spoke to tim russert about his long association with "meet the press." >> you have been appearing on "meet the press" since august 9, 1964. remember the first guest? >> senator ma jjority leader mansfield. he has different problems than most guts. his answers were too short, instead of too long. he really liked the yes or no answer. so, i was warned that i would run out of questions with senator mansfield and i did. >> were you nervous? >> i was so scared. i can't tell you. it was big time. actually, the column started may 15, 1963. i suddenly realized i was big
time. i didn't watch "meet the press" since it started and i just pitched myself to believe i was on it. >> on it he was. more than 248 times. here's a look back at the highlights starting with the first nervous appearance in 1964. >> senator, you think there's any chance the senate will after all enact legislation requiring disclosure of income in the wake of the baker case. you differentiate between the republican party. on july 1, you said the republican party had nuting to do with the watergate caper. president nixon did have something to do with it? >> not at all. >> you think the president should be more forthcoming